Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks Military Pay Chart (2024)
Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

RPD (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Degtyaryova)

Light Machine Gun (LMG) [ 1945 ]

The RPD Light Machine Gun saw only limited action during the latter stages of World War 2 - though substantial service thereafter.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/09/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

Developed as a portable, squad-level light machine gun, the RPD ("Ruchnoy Pulemot Degtyaryova" - "Hand-Held Machine Gun of Degtyaryov") was a further evolution of the storied DP line introduced in 1928 by Vasily Degtyaryov. The DP was appropriately modernized through the DPM and RP-46 initiatives but these were chambered for the full-power 7.62x54mmR Russian rifle cartridge. In the new design, this shifted to the smaller 7.62x39mm cartridge which promised more control. Work on what would become the RPD began during World War 2 (1939-1945) in 1943 and some three competing designs were offered for review to Soviet authorities for possible acceptance. The Degtyaryov submission was, at its core, nothing more than a down-sized DP. It was eventually accepted in 1944 as the "RPD" though only in limited pre-production form by the end of the war in 1945.

Delays eventually meant that the RPD was not issued on a large scale until 1953 and it established itself as the standard light machine gun / squad support weapon of the Soviet Army in time, intended to be paired with infantry squads already equipped with the famous Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle for extensive voluminous fire. The RPD utilized an action centered on a conventional gas-operated piston system. The gun weighed 16.3lbs and featured an overall length of 41 inches with a barrel 20.5 inches in length. Unlike the DP and its variants, the barrel of the RPD was not changeable. Rate-of-fire approached 750 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity rated at 2,400 feet per second. Effective range through the included fore and aft iron sights was up to 1,000 meters.

The RPD showcased a rectangular receiver containing the charging handle, ejection port, aft sighting device, trigger unit and all associated internal components. A shapely wooden stock was affixed for a butt and the pistol grip was also of wood. A unique handguard was seated just ahead of the receiver and at the base of the barrel and gas cylinder. The cylinder was mounted under the barrel - unlike Kalashnikov weapons that feature this over the barrel. The barrel was capped by a forward sighting device and saw a folding bipod clamped at this area. In this fashion, the weapon could be fired from the shoulder as a typical assault weapon or seated on its bipod for support fire/suppression of enemy positions.©MilitaryFactory.com
Chambered for the 7.62x39mm rifle cartridge, the RPD became the first Soviet automatic weapon to feature this round. It was of a rimless, bottleneck design and saw extensive production throughout the Cold War - indeed its use still continues even today (2014). 100-round belts were seated within a drum magazine clipped under the receiver. A special mechanism was used internally to lift and feed the belt into the action.

The RPD was appropriately altered throughout its service life. Its piston and cocking handle were both changed within time and as operational service dictated. The gas cylinder was lengthened while a recoil absorber was added within the buttstock for more stable firing. A cleaning rod was issued and housed in the buttstock while a magazine cover was installed to prevent stoppages from dirt and debris. Despite the additions and modifications, the feed mechanism was never a truly sound effort for it was noticeably lacking in the required power. Additionally, the weapon's action was limited to full-automatic fire only which, coupled with the weapon's light weight, proved somewhat problematic for accuracy. Add to that the lack of a changeable barrel and it was up to the operator to ensure that the barrel did not overheat. A sustained rate-of-fire of 100 rounds in a minute was the absolute stated limit.

Production of the weapon spanned from 1944 to 1960 though usage extended well beyond that window. Operators were numerous and included Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Finland, East Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Laos, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Romania, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen among others (see operators listing). The Chinese locally-produced the weapon as the "Type 56" under the NORINCO brand label. While the Soviets succeeded the RPD with the RPK line, the RPD still continues in service with select forces today (December 2013). The weapon's combat history includes World War 2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cambodian Civil War, the Iran-Iraq War, the 1991 Gulf War, the 2001 Invasion of Afghanistan, the 2003 Iraq War, the Libyan Civil War and the Syrian Civil War. There have also been numerous regional conflicts utilizing the type.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Service Year

Soviet Union national flag graphic
Soviet Union


Light Machine Gun (LMG)

Degtyarev ; State Arsenals - Soviet Union
(View other Arms-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of Afghanistan National flag of Albania National flag of Algeria National flag of Angola National flag of Azerbaijan National flag of Bangladesh National flag of Chad National flag of China National flag of Egypt National flag of Equatorial Guinea National flag of Eritrea National flag of Ethiopia National flag of Finland National flag of modern Germany National flag of East Germany National flag of Hungary National flag of Indonesia National flag of Iraq National flag of Libya National flag of Malaysia National flag of Morocco National flag of Nicaragua National flag of Nigeria National flag of North Korea National flag of Pakistan National flag of Poland National flag of Romania National flag of Sudan National flag of Somalia National flag of Syria National flag of Tanzania National flag of Thailand National flag of Uganda National flag of Vietnam National flag of Yemen National flag of Zimbabwe Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Azerbaijan; Bangladesh; Benin; Cambodia; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; China; Comoros; Congo-Brazzaville; Djibouti; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Finland; East Germany; Germany; Hungary; Indonesia; Iraq; Laos; Libya; Malta; Malaysia; Mongolia; Morocco; Nicaragua; Nigeria; North Korea; Pakistan; Poland; Romania; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Somalia; Sudan; Syria; Tanzania; Thailand; Togo; Uganda; Vietnam; Yemen; Zimbabwe
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Fire Support
Capable of suppressing enemy elements at range through direct or in-direct fire.

Overall Length
1,037 mm
40.83 in
Barrel Length
520 mm
20.47 in
Empty Wgt
16.31 lb
7.40 kg

Rear Sliding Notch; Semi-Hooded Front Post


Gas-Operated; Full-Automatic

Rounds are automatically ejected from the breech, a new cartridge stripped from the feed and set in the chamber, and rounds are continuously fired so long as the trigger is pulled and an ammunition supply exists.
Gas-operated system is featured, typically involving a gas cylinder and rear-driven piston directing energy to the bolt component.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)



Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a 7.62x39mm rifle cartridge
Rounds / Feed

100-round Non-Disintegrating Belt with Drum Magazine
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Max Eff.Range
2,500 ft
(762 m | 833 yd)
Muzzle Velocity
2,400 ft/sec
(732 m/sec)

RPD - Base Series Designation.
RPDM - Modified Variant.
Type 56 - Local Chinese variant by NORINCO.
Type 56-1 - Local Chinese variant by NORINCO; based on RPDM.
Type 62 - North Korean variant.

Military lapel ribbon for the American Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Ukranian-Russian War
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2

Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.

Images Gallery

1 / 3
Image of the RPD (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Degtyaryova)
Image courtesy of the United States Department of Defense.
2 / 3
Image of the RPD (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Degtyaryova)
Image courtesy of the United States Department of Defense.
3 / 3
Image of the RPD (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Degtyaryova)
Image courtesy of the United States Department of Defense.

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Chart Military Ranks DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane, and MilitaryRibbons.info, cataloguing military medals and ribbons. Special Interest: RailRoad Junction, the locomotive encyclopedia.

©2023 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2023 (20yrs)